Open adoption is an arrangement that many adopters and birth mothers are hesitant to enter because of the complete transparency of personal information. An adoptee's biological parents and adoptive parents both know at least the first and last names of the other. An open adoption may be for placement purposes only or may carry over into post-placement relationships between the two adoption parties. Some experts say open adoption lowers the chance of a birth mother backing out of a placement after birth and others say that it compromises the child's chance at a normal life and may undermine the authority of the adoptive parents.
Open adoption statistics, although mostly dated, suggest that a majority of private agency adoptions are at least semi-open, meaning the biological and adoptive parents have met and may be on first-name basis. Advocates of open adoptions support it to avoid the secrecy and mystery that may develop around the unknown facets of an adoptee's biological parents.
Open adoption isn't for everyone, but, when it comes down to deciding how to handle one, the adoptee's welfare should be priority. Parents should encourage the child to explore his or her feelings about adoption, even if that means asking questions about his or her pre-placement lifestyle and maintaining contact with his or her birth mother. That being said, parents also reserve the right to intervene if birth parent contact is becoming emotionally overwhelming for an adoptee. A study by Grotevant and McRoy, published in 1998, reported that 72 percent of adoptive parents were satisfied with their birth mothers and nearly all but one birth mother in the study were satisfied with their contact with the adoptive parents. Further study reported two-thirds of agencies grew to endorse open adoption practices in less than a decade.